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Research Proposal Presentation

Partnerships in Learning: Developing a Framework for Collaboration in the Social Inclusion Era
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Kylie Austin

on 1 October 2012

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Transcript of Research Proposal Presentation

Partnerships in Learning Developing a Framework for Collaboration in the Social Inclusion Era Introduction Under the current Federal Government's social inclusion agenda, universities are being positioned as "...powerful agents of societal change" (Foskett, 2010, p. 3) Bradley Review (2008)


Federal Government's Higher Education Participation and Partnership Program (HEPPP)


Stratification of Low Socio-Economic (SES) Students







Increasing university access by raising aspirations


Increasing university access by building social and cultural capital


Increasing university access by forming meaningful partnerships Background This study will investigate the processes undertaken by universities and schools to form partnerships Purpose This study will evaluate the effectiveness of partnerships specific to the social inclusion context This study will examine if partnerships impact on the overall success of schools outreach programs The development of a framework to guide the development, implementation and evaluation of strategic partnerships between universities and schools in the social inclusion context In what ways do partnerships formed between the university and schools influence the social capital of students from low socio-economic backgrounds? Research Questions What processes were undertaken by the university and schools to form partnerships? How was the partnership characterised by each stakeholder? In what ways was the partnership between the university and schools effective? How were the outcomes of the partnership measured? From a practitioner’s perspective, what was the influence on the social capital of low SES students as a result of the university and school partnership? Significance This study will add to the existing body of research surrounding university and school partnerships in the area of widening participation, but will be uniquely located in the Australian context (Billet, Ovens, Clemans, Seddon, 2007; Hingham & Yeomans, 2010).

This study will also add to current literature surrounding university partnerships with NGO's, community groups, vocational education providers, corporates and schools in an Australian context (Arenas, Lozano & Abareda, 2009; Rowley, 1997; Donaldson & Preston, 1995; Freeman 1984, Huxham & Vangen, 2000; Waddell & Brown, 1997, Clarke, 2010; Waddock, 1991; Waddock & Bannister, 1991; Hansen & Spitzeck, 2011; Billet et. al., 2007; Jonker & Nijfoh, 2006).

There has been little research into what elements constitute a reciprocal and mutually rewarding partnership within this field. It has been suggested by previous research (Gale, 2011) that given the weight the Federal Government has placed on the importance of developing partnerships that a framework to guide relationships in this sector needs to be developed.

The study will provide recommendations for practice for practitioners and stakeholders in relation to the initiation, development and evaluation of partnerships in the era of social inclusion. Exploring social capital as a means to improve access to higher education Exploring aspirations as a vehicle to increase access to higher education Literature Review Establishing partnerships to increase access to higher education Research Design Theoretical Framework Partnerships are highly situational which may limit the generalisability of the partnership framework.

Concepts such as social capital are measured over sustained periods of time and it may be difficult to measure significant impact from the point of view of the teacher.

The school partnership framework will provide schools and higher education providers with a guiding structure that is not only informed by theory, but has significant implications for practice. Its ability to transfer to other contexts can then be determined by other researchers. Limitations In conducting this study they are ethical considerations that will be taken into account. Including:

Ensuring that the purpose of the study is described to participants to ensure that both the participant and the researcher understand the same purpose of the study.

The participant’s involvement will be voluntary.

Risks need to be communicated to the participants, a guarantee of confidentiality needs to be ensured along with the assurance that the participant can withdraw at any time (Creswell, 2009).

In the data collection and analysis phases of the program, the confidentiality and protecting the privacy and anonymity of individuals will be ensured.

The data kept for a reasonable period of time and validation strategies will be implemented to ensure that any inferences made from the data is correct (Creswell, 2009). Ethical Issues Informed by the meta-theories of structure vs agency and socio-constructivist activity theory Outcomes The outcomes of this project will be a partnership framework, informed by rich qualitative data, a deep understanding of participants’ roles, and reflections, in relation to the process of forming and sustaining these relationships.

The school partnership framework will provide schools and higher education providers with a guiding structure that is not only informed by theory, but has significant implications for practice.

The endeavored outcome for this research project would see increased initiation of partnerships with higher education providers by schools, where the two organisations work collaboratively to achieve their shared goals of increasing the social capital of their students. Resources Timeline Thank you for your time!
Your questions and feedback are welcome! Educational aspirations are ‘the desire or ambitions to achieve conventional notions of educational success, particularly a university education’ (Kenway & Hickery-Moody, 2011 p. 152).
Raising the aspirations of students from low SES backgrounds assumes that those students have little or no desire to achieve educational success (Sellar & Gale, 2011; Bowden & Doughney 2010; Shallcross & Hartley 2009; Walpole 2008; Hahs-Vaughn 2004; Tett 2004).
Bok (2011) argues that all people aspire regardless of their socio-economic status, however socio-economic status and cultural factors allow some to more powerfully pursue their aspirations than others.
Appadurai’s ‘capacity to aspire’ (2004) focuses on providing students with the knowledge and skills to be able to determine their situation, articulate their pathway and focus on what outcomes and imagined futures would be of importance to them (Sellar & Gale, 2011). Bourdieu’s social capital theory illustrates the ideology of social reproduction, focusing on the cycle of family upbringing and social expectations (Bourdieu & Passeron, 1990).
Research suggests that students from low SES backgrounds are prepared for entry into university differently than students from high SES backgrounds, including students’ knowledge and capability to navigate their pathways to their imagined futures, trans-generational experiences, access to information networks outside of their communities and academic achievement supported at school (Gale, 2009; Bok, 2011).
In reinforcing the dominant culture, students’ aspirations from low SES backgrounds are shaped in ways that serve to reproduce social structures and are formed in non-conscious dispositional ways (Reay, David & Ball, 2005).
Through disseminating the theory of social capital, Ball and Vincent (1998) introduce the concepts of ‘hot’ and ‘cold’ knowledge in relation to the networks that influence students’ ideas
These theories around social capital have translated into policy and practice as illustrated within the Federal Government’s DEMO Matrix. Gale and Sellar (2011) argue that school outreach programs and university and school partnerships can strengthen students’ capacities to cultivate networks, shape their aspirations and encourage others to narrate their experiences.
Social partnerships are considered to be the collaborative efforts of stakeholders from organisations across sectors. These stakeholders cooperatively endeavour to resolve a mutual problem or issue that has arisen from a need in the local community, or has been identified by public policy agenda (Waddock, 1991).
Universities are now being viewed as vehicles for social change, with partnerships being integral to the direction and pace of that change in the United Kingdom (Chilosi, Noble, Broadhead & Wilkinson, date).
There is a notion that universities are regarded as ‘ivory towers’ (Gale & Sellar, 2009).
There is a need for guiding principles to assist individual organisations in the development, implementation and evaluation of partnership programs.
Austin (2000) demonstrates collaboration as occurring along a continuum which measures the degree of engagement by partners and the desirable progression to more strategic collaboration or formalised partnerships. Research Design Role of the Researcher Site/s Participants Data Collection Procedures Forms of Analysis Ontologically, this study will take a social constructivist approach to explore the subjective nature of partnerships that occur between universities and schools (Creswell, 2007).
The chosen strategy is a case study approach. A case study is a form of empirical inquiry that “investigates a contemporary phenomenon within its real life context, especially when the boundaries between phenomenon and context are not clearly evident” (Yin, 2003 p. 13). Due to the socio-constructivist nature of this study, it is necessary for the researcher to acknowledge reflexivity in that ‘the knower is part of the matrix of what is known’ (DuBois, 1983, cited in Tindall, 1994 p. 151).
The researcher’s background shapes interpretation of the research and so it is necessary to position them in the research to acknowledge how their interpretation flows from their personal, cultural and historical experiences (Creswell, 2007; Watt, 2007).
The researcher’s intent is to explore the meanings others make about the world. In the instance of this case study, the researcher’s intent is to highlight practitioners’ perspectives of partnership development in the era of social inclusion. The selection of the research site is essential in the data collection phase of the research design.
The site/s need to be appropriate to the research being proposed. As partnerships are developed, implemented and evaluated in an educational setting it is important to undertake the data collection in a setting such as a school or institution.
To ensure the quality of the data, it is important that the data collection will take place in a mutually convenient space and that participant’s feel comfortable in a research environment that is quiet and free from distractions (Creswell, 2009). During the qualitative data collection, stratified purposive sampling will be utilised to identify participants. These participants will be selected because of their key involvement in the phenomena being explored as a part of the research question, namely partnership formation and activities to build social capital of low SES students (Creswell, 2007). Semi-Structured Interviews Personal Logs Gathering field notes through observation Organisation of the data: Compilation of an audit trial

Familiarisation and reflection on the data: Ongoing and repeated reading

Categorising and classifying the data: Categorical aggregation of the data

Interpreting and synthesising the data: “the thematic structures derived inductively from the material … can provide the conceptual hubs around which the story can be told…” (Eisner, 1991, p. 191).

Validating the data: Member checking, triangulation and think, rich description
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